The Last Gift

Valentine’s Day can really stink.  All the hearts and flowers and jewelry commercials on TV.  I remember when Keith was still here, I would say something at each jewelry commercial that came on, and he would pretend not to know what I was talking about, or pretend that he just could not see the TV at that moment.  I did not get a lot of jewelry from him, but certainly enough to last me.  I treasure those now.

Let me tell you about the last gift.

Our anniversary is November 11th.  In 2007, Keith was very ill by the time November rolled around and had been home on disability for a couple months.  We had decided not to get each other anything for our anniversary, wanting to wait until he got better and then go away together.

Keith died on November 9, 2007.  When I got home from saying goodbye to him at the hospital, I found waiting on my front porch a dozen roses.  He had ordered them online to be delivered, not knowing they would be delivered after his passing.

That is not the end of this gift.  The wonderful ladies in our congregation, hearing about the flowers, decided they needed to be saved in some way for me.  They found a woman in Ohio who freeze dries flowers and shipped them to her the next day.

Today, those flowers hang on the wall in my bedroom, a tremendous reminder of my sweet husband, but also of a gift of love that is precious in my sight from my sweet sisters in Christ.

The gift kept giving, though.  A young woman wrapped them up to send at the packaging store and was told the story of the flowers.  Later, when the flowers came in but had a loose bloom and had to be sent back, the same girl packaged them up again, and asked how we were doing (she remembered the original story).  My sweet friend was able to share the work God was doing in and us and through us with this young woman whose name and face I will never know here on earth.  I hope that she understood the joy of the gift, and the joy of the loving Father who brought it all about!

Here is the point:  acts of kindness, big and small, have an affect on all involved:  the giver, the receiver, and ancillary people we will never even know were touched.  And that is God’s love here on earth.

And that is the most important thing about Valentine’s Day.

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  –Acts 1:7-8

Best of Books

One of the best books my boys read in Kindergarten is The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson.  The lessons in it are not just for them.

In the book, the old tramp (a homeless person of yesteryear), Armand Pouly, enjoyed sitting outside the restaurants of Paris in the evening, dining on the odors coming from inside them.  He had quite a routine, and could almost, almost, feel like he was inside dining in reality.  He would even wipe his face when he completed his “meal.”

Through the course of the book, however, he realized that rather than merely dining of the memories of meals, he needed to get out and work so that he can have the real thing.  This realization came when he began to care about the young Calcett family.

There are times when I merely “dine” on my memories.  I remember what it was like to be married, what Keith looked like, felt like, smelled like, sounded like.  These are pleasant memories.  I had a wonderful husband, and I miss him.

Then, like Armand, I realize that I cannot dine on the memories forever.  I am in the land of the living.  I am not done with my jobs here.  I must care and I must raise my family and I must carry on, not just for Keith’s sake, or the boys’, but for my own.

I want to jump into my new life with both feet, eyes wide open, and dine on each and every moment as it happens.  I don’t want to be on the sidelines, waiting for life to happen, enjoying simulations of happiness; I want to feel the real thing, and I won’t unless I am willing to dine on the life I have been given.

God doesn’t always give us what we want, but He ALWAYS gives us what we need…HIM!

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10 B